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The Count and the Amount
A little longer story today
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Cash was king in the country the Fieldings were going to, U.S. dollars cash, that is.
When the Fieldings went to empty their bank account and get $13,000 in new bills, the bank was ready for them. Randy had to call a week in advance to make sure they had enough cash on hand lest they be turned away as had happened once before.
This time, however, the bank was ready to hand it over, but needed the extra time to find newer bills. No one had made that request before. The Fieldings didn’t explain why they needed newer bills, and the bank never asked.
Randy Fielding had never had that much cash on him at one time in his life. All transactions to this point had been with checks, credit cards, and loans.
But thirteen grand in cash was not something to be taken lightly. Still, though, they were intent on leaving the country with that and another $5000 they had stashed away at home. Where they were going, $18,000 could last them almost a year.
Randy counted out the bills at the teller booth. He looked up and noticed at least four cameras focused on his teller’s booth alone and other cameras pointed toward the other four booths. He knew he was being watched – as every other customer had been watched for the last 30 years.
The bills were fresh and in twenties, fifties, and a few hundreds.
When Randy got through the first round of counting, he slid the bills over to his wife on the other side of the booth opening, and she began counting.
After she was finished, she looked over at Randy and said, “Nineteen hundred dollars over.”
Randy nodded and took back the bills, counting them a second time.
He looked at the teller through the bars and said, “You’ve given us nineteen hundred too much.”
The teller, Nadine, shook her head and said, “Impossible. We counted if four times back here.”
“With all due respect, Ma’am, we both just counted it and I counted it twice. All three times we came up with $14,900, $1900 more than we requested or had in our account.”
“Just a moment please,” Nadine said as she closed the door to her window.
Six minutes later, Nadine opened her teller door and said, “We stand by our count. Thank you for doing business with us at First American Central. We appreciate your business.”
And just that quickly, she closed the door to her booth.
Randy and Monica stared at each other in disbelief.
The guard meandered over to the Fieldings at the closed booth and asked, “Something the matter, folks? Are you done here?”
“Uh, no, I don’t think we’re done here. It’s hard to explain but…”
Steve the Guard held up both palms and said, “No need explaining to me. I just watch over the money. Seems like the teller is done with you. Do you need an escort to your vehicle?”
Randy turned and tapped his keys against the steel bars at the closed booth.
“Nadine!” Randy said.
“Sir, I’m going to have to escort you to your vehicle. The teller is closed. Come with me please.”
Steve the Guard sauntered out the door, looking behind him to make sure the Fieldings were following. He waited for them to catch up and then followed them to their car. Randy unlocked the door with his remote, thanked Steve the Guard for escorting them and got in. As soon as Monica was in, he locked the doors.
Randy said, “Are we in some sci-fi movie or something, where they want us to have more money than we had in our account?”
“The whole thing’s bizarre all right, even down to the security guard. What are we going to do?”
“We could invest the extra money and then when they come looking for it, we hand it over and make a little profit from it.”
“No, but what are we really gonna do? We can’t just take it home with us, can we?”
“We tried to give it back,” he said. “But then they shut us out, literally. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
As they considered their options, Steve the Guard reappeared from the bank. Randy opened his window.
“What’s up?” Randy asked.
Steve the Guard said, “Would you come with me, Sir? Ma’am?”
He led them to the bank and into the back offices, and asked them to take a seat at the desk of Gloria Halstrom - Vice President, as the sign on the desk told them.
A thin lady, about 60 with short pepper-gray hair, appeared from a doored office, smiled, and took her seat.
“Mr. and Mrs. Fielding, there has been a mistake on our part, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this may have caused you.”
Randy let out a sigh of relief and eased back into his chair. He looked over at Monica and winked.
“It seems,” Mrs. Halstrom said, “we have shorted you $2800 and we are very sorry that this would look badly upon our bank and we ask that this would not reflect badly on how you view this bank now or in the future.”
Randy was about to speak, but Vice President Halstrom held up a finger.
“I know that social media has a tendency to, well, have a mind of its own in these matters, but we’d rather you not reveal our indiscretion to the media, social or otherwise. We are prepared to compensate you for your discretion.” She pushed another thirty-seven $100 bills across the desk, $2800 for the perceived error and another $900 to compensate for their error.
“So, you’re trying to buy our silence?”
Mrs. Halstrom nodded once. “Yes.”
“Very well,” Randy said. “Offer taken.”
“Randy!” Monica said.
Randy said to the Vice President, “You’ll have to excuse my wife. She’s sort of the greedy one in the family. Heh heh.” No one laughed except Randy.
Monica sat back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. Randy rose to shake Vice President Halstrom’s hand.
“Will there be anything else I can help you with?” the bank vice president asked.
Randy said, “No, I believe that does it. You have my word that this matter stays in this office.”
“Would you kindly sign this one-page waiver to that effect, Mr. Fielding? Mrs. Fielding?”
Fielding read over the document and signed it, and slid it over to his wife.
She read it twice and signed, shaking her head.
The three shook hands, and Steve the Guard escorted the Fieldings to their car. Randy started it and headed home.
“When do you think they’ll realize their $5600 error?” Monica asked Randy.
“Hopefully after we’ve safely landed overseas in three days. We probably should put that money aside for when they come to their senses.”